Growing the penalty pie
The value of a Commonwealth penalty unit is set to increase for the first time in 15 years. Penalty units are used to determine the amount payable for criminal and civil penalties under a range of Commonwealth statutes, including some provisions of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010. The value of a penalty unit will increase from $110 to $170 on 28 December 2012, unless proclaimed earlier.
While most substantive offences in the Competition and Consumer Act and Australian Consumer Law are not set by reference to penalty units, the amendment will affect:
- the penalty attaching to infringement notices under s 134C, with the majority now attracting the increased penalty of $2,040 for an individual, $10,200 for a corporation and $102,000 for a listed corporation; and
- a number of procedural offences, such as a refusal or failure to comply with a request for information, documents or evidence issued by the ACCC under s 155, or giving false or misleading information or evidence in response to such a notice. Those offences now attract a penalty of up to $3,400 or 12 months imprisonment under section 155(6A).
The change was effected as part of the Crimes Legislation Amendment (Serious Drugs, Identity Crime and Other Measures) Act 2012, passed by Federal Parliament in October this year.
The Act also provides for a review of the value of a penalty unit every 3 years going forward.